A Fleeting Glance at a Fleeting Season
“Where did the summer go?” Yes, it’s an overused cliché but nonetheless is a question oft-asked here in northern New England. Vermont summers are glorious, intense, and, in looking back from the perspective of autumn, all too brief.
The season’s work at Local Motion geared up, so to speak, in mid-May. As with any seasonal operation, staffing is an on-going challenge. This year I hired the best ever, though. Marion, always the reliable companion, joined the team. Side-by-side (or seated one behind the other on a new cruiser-style tandem) we spent the majority of our summer hours facilitating the bicycling experiences of the thousands who passed through the Trailside Center on Burlington’s waterfront.
Raven (remember Raven?) was launched on May 6th. Our sailing hours were limited this year, due in part to an extremely wet and cold summer, but we often commuted to work aboard our floating home. She remains a solid, trustworthy vessel that is deserving of the many compliments we receive from boaters around the lake.
On Thursday nights we traveled to Gypsy Rose in Tunbridge and worked the land until our Monday morning return to Lake Champlain. Despite a frustratingly wet, cold summer, we enjoyed a bumper crop of maple syrup, berries, and apples.
With so much to do, it was often difficult to slow down and take a break but we did make time for visits from family. My parents (above) proved quite intrepid and made two trips this summer up our unmaintained dirt road.
Vermont farmers rely on three cuttings of hay to feed the livestock through the winter. The summer of 2009 was a tough one with limited opportunities for the necessary drying before baling. Sunny, blue days were a rarity. Someday we hope to use the hay from our meadows to feed animals but, for now, I mow the hay and leave it on the fields.
As if there weren't already enough going on, PaddleWays continues, albeit with limited programming compared with past years. The summer of 2009 marked the 14th year I’ve done the University of Vermont’s Wilderness Orientation TREK program in which I take two groups of 12 students for a six-day adventure on Lake Champlain. In the photo above, the trailer is loaded with boats and ready for the journey to the launch.
Our garden suffered from a very limited growing season this year. We had 25 degrees on June 1st and a hard, killing frost on September 14th. The short season, combined with cool days and way too much rain left many of the crops struggling to produce. To make matters worse, the tomato plants that were heavy with fruit in August succumbed to the blight and were lost in a matter of days. Sadly, we pulled all the plants after only harvesting a few dozen fruit.
Vermont farmers worried about the ability to feed cows during the coming winter with corn crops that were plagued with wet feet and not enough sun. Our few rows of sweet corn did not yield the first ripened ears until after the coming of our mid-September frost, but when it came it was oh-so-good! We plan to dedicate a much larger portion of the meadow to corn in 2010.
The garden has since been put to rest and I hope to fit in time to till the soil before the earth freezes for the winter. Our first snow fell on October 13th (story to follow with the next entry). Over the course of the next few weeks, Marion and I will be transitioning back to Tunbridge. Raven will be hauled on November 6th and we’ll settle into Gypsy full-time for another winter on the land.